Jordanian Pig Farms & The Swine Flu Epidemic

Talking to a few people recently I’ve discovered that most, including myself, know fairly little about the swine flu epidemic that western media says is going to kill us all. I emphasize western media here simply because I’m not seeing the same kind of attention or reaction from Arab media, and the reasons of that may be numerous, but my favorite is what I like to think of as western media’s love for sensationalist, apocalyptic-like stories. For instance, on CNN, a guy spent half an hour telling viewers what to buy for their doomsday pack (for those interested, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a face mask might just save your soul body – or maybe not).

Anyways, back to the point.

Little seems to be known about the whole issue. A few years back you’d probably have to remain glued to the TV to finally get some decent information on it, but, well, suffice to say, thank the good Lord for the Internet. So here’s what I learned thus far:

– Swine flu typically affects only pigs or people who’ve had direct contact with them, but this new strain spreads from person to person without them having any contact with pigs.

– Symptoms are similar to the typical flu symptoms.

– The World Health Organization has yet to declare swine flu a “pandemic”, but it seems to be moving closer to that status. The WHO also says the virus can no longer be contained.

– It is treatable with antiviral drugs if delivered within 48 hours.

– You can still eat pork.

– Oil companies and airlines are suffering.

– Pharmaceutical companies are loving it.

So are spammers.

Conspiracy theories emerge.

So, what about Jordan!?

The government’s response to the virus has been the typical “everything’s OK”. And hey, maybe everything is OK. Who are we to question the government unreasonably? Plus, the whole panic thing is already over done by the media.

But what I find interesting about some of the people I’ve talked to recently is that many are surprised to hear that Jordan even has pigs to begin with. Indeed, Jordan is home to a few pig farms, which have been around for a long time, specifically in Karak and Madaba. Apparently, the owners are Christian (I wonder if there’s a law against Muslim’s and pig farming), and a pig farmer can make at least $5,000 a month, which isn’t bad money at all. [source]

Jordan also has wild pigs somewhere near the Israeli-Jordanian border. Meanwhile, a 26-year-old Israeli man was just diagnosed with swine flu in the Israeli city, Netanya. But not to worry, they have a sense of humor about it.

So there you go. Yes, we do have pigs and pig farms in Jordan. Now I’m not saying that one plus one will equal one or anything, it’s just a fact that I think Jordanians should know before assuming the “Oh we’re a Muslim country so we don’t have any pigs” line of thinking.

More interestingly: Google and its users are tracking the strain using Google Maps:

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

An interesting timeline of the virus’s spread can be found here.

More FAQs here.


  • This is the attitude I’m seeing in Amman as well – we are a Muslim country, therefore we have no pigs, therefore swine flu will not affect us. They seemed quite shocked to hear about the person-to-person transmission, and how easily it can (and has) spread.

  • I really hope every thing is ok, no one need any disease to spread in jordan

    btw is the ministry of health taking any measures in case the disease hits jordan

  • I hate when our government announce regarding any problem that occurred or may occur with their most used quote “everything’s OK”. On the other hand, I started to feel the same thing about the American media where “everything is NOT OK”. The endless broadcasting hours they spent explaining how to survive and overcome (any X problem) makes you wonder why you want to survive this harsh world. We should be reasonable with our judgment and action.

  • With this virus (as with others as well) pigs act as a reservior that allows the mutation of the virus to a form that can now be easily transmitted to humans. Although there maybe some pigs around, It’s rational to think that because there are way less pigs in countries with a Muslim majority it’s way less likely that residents of those countries are at risk. I remember from my undergrad parasitology that there were a few viruses rarely found in Muslim countries due to the relative absence of the vehicle-the pig.

    ANYWAY, although yes the the western media is into sensationalizing..there are in fact over 1000 “suspected” cases in Mexico and 100+ confirmed deaths. The US shares a border with Mexico, and high school/college kids like to spring break in Cancun. So I would say it’s at least a legitimate worry on this side of the world.

  • hmm i remember joking about flu ,bird’s flu and pigs couple of years ago, funny how “unfunny” it sounds now

  • Actual pigs infected with the virus are yet to be found.

    Just because its called swine flu doesn’t mean it has to spread between pigs. The virus spreads between men, but it originated in pigs and birds.

    So we need to worry less about pig farms and more about people who are infected and try to prevent the spread of the disease.

  • bird flu do spread between birds, thats why it was such a pain, and spreaded almost to every corner of the globe, however it didnt spread between humans yet, etc etc , her point is.. pigs aint that hard to track XD

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